Eat well - travel often

Month: October 2017

London: Honey Afternoon Tea and a Bee at The St Ermin’s Hotel

London: Honey Afternoon Tea and a Bee at The St Ermin’s Hotel

I have often said and written that Afternoon Tea is one of my favourite meals.  I love lingering with friends and family over plates piled high with thin sandwiches with no crusts (I hate crusts on sandwiches so this is a plus point for me!), […]

Winter Spice Apple Sauce Cake

Winter Spice Apple Sauce Cake

I have been baking my quick and easy fruit cake for years now and it never fails.  This time of year we have a surplus of really nice, heritage, cooking apples at the end of the garden.  Sometimes I make cakes with chopped apples or […]

Southampton: A Day on a Big Ship – the MSC Preziosa

Southampton: A Day on a Big Ship – the MSC Preziosa

A Day on a Big Ship, the MSC Preziosa, with a lot of fellow bloggers. Every year Flea Enterprises invites bloggers registered on Foodies100/Tots100/HIBS100/Trips100 to BlogCamp – a gathering of bloggers from all walks of blogs along with great workshop sessions, networking, learning and cake; oh yes there is usually cake!

This year we were invited to attend BlogCamp which would be held on board the cruise ship MSC Preziosa, scheduled to be docked at Southampton for the day.  There was a flurry of excitement on social media and we all gathered in Southampton with some arriving the night before and others on the day itself.

As we arrived by taxi this super large vision appeared ahead and we realised it was the MSC Preziosa, our host for the day! I have been on a similar sized cruise ship once before with a blogging group however I have not been on a modern day cruise.  The sheer size of this ship dwarfed all around it eliciting gasps from all as we approached.

Fellow blogger Manjiri aka Travels for Taste and wearing her nautical striped top was rather excited to step on board her first cruise ship.

We had an introduction to MSC Cruise Lines meeting the mascots with a short presentation of the activities available for children from infants to teenagers.  The children can join the DoReMi Club on board.  The parents receive a newsletter each evening with the following day’s activities for adults as well as children.  Do your kids want to disco dance, play computer games, swim, make a digital movie, sing or just colour and relax – there will be something for every child or of course they can spend the day with their parents!  On thing is sure boredom is not allowed on board!

If you don’t have children try to borrow some just to see the delights on their faces as they have so many new adventures!

Even babies are catered for with fully trained staff with their own colourful room.

One of the places that really took my attention was the indoor pool area.  There is a choice of pools both indoor and outdoor and the size of all of them really is larger than life.

Don’t want to swim? That’s OK you can just sit in the jacuzzi and meditate.

The roof can roll back when in good weather – instant outdoor pool!

Or spend time outside at one of the outside pools (there is a huge water tunnel on the other pool).

When the sun comes out there are vast lines of deck chairs to rest, drink cocktails, read your kindle or just plan your next cruise!

Manjiri was only too happy to take the weight off her feet and try to catch a few rays of sunshine that kept peeking out!

Making time for yourself is no problem on board with spas offering some special time with a long list of treatments – why not book yourself some ‘me time’ while the spouse or family do their own thing!

Feeling a bit flabby after all the food or just want to keep up your normal fitness routine there will be no problem with all of the state of the art fitness machines available on board.

Whether your favourite is Blackjack or Roulette you can feel like 007 and make the evening special in the on board casino.

And you have never seen so many staircases, sweeping staircases, glittering staircases, opulent and outrageous staircases!

The staircases that lead down to the Golden Lobster restaurant where there is table service or a huge buffet. You can have one or the other or both – whatever you fancy eating it is there for  you. And if you fancy something different there are a number of other restaurants on board to choose from (some require reservations).

The buffet is stocked with huge platters of food that are topped up regularly as needed.

I had the seafood salad from the daily menu – a sort of deconstructed seafood salad with a twist and a delicious ‘Marie Rose’ sauce.

Main course I had spinach and ricotta ravioli with a brown sage butter.

For dessert I picked from the pudding buffet.  That chocolate tart at the back was my favourite!

We ended the afternoon with some workshops, fizz and tea&coffee, disembarking with a taste for the cruise life!

And now for some fun facts!
MSC Cruise Lines is the No 1 cruise line in Europe, South America and South Africa …….
over 170 nationalities have sailed with MSC ……….
17,778 employees on board and on shore work for MSC ………
50,541,060 + meals have been served on board MSC fleet of cruise liners …………..
with over 199 ports of call ……….
over 1,8 million guests have been welcomed on board MSC ships ……….

From 2018 Southampton will be the home hub for the MSC Magnifica which will have a few extra things to make you feel more at home like kettles in every cabin and Yorkshire tea will be available on board.  One of the perks of sailing from Southampton is that you can take loads of luggage to have the perfect outfit for every occasion without having to keep to airline strict luggage regulations.  Car parking is free at Southampton which makes quite a saving.

It has been a long time since I took a cruise and I know cruise liners have changed so much since then so maybe it is time for this ‘Reluctant Cruiser’ to give it another chance!

I was a guest of MSC Cruise Lines aboard the MSC Presiosa.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All photos are my own and may not be reproduced in any form without my written permission.

Premier Inn Review

Premier Inn Review

I was recently taking part in a Blogger convention in Southampton.  I was attending with blogging friends/colleagues Manjiri from Travels For Taste and Nayna who writes Simply Sensational Food.  We needed to stay over night for two nights. Southampton has plenty of accommodation for students, […]

Giveaway: Lobster Apron

Giveaway: Lobster Apron

I was asked if I would like to review an apron.  I have loads of aprons so what could be so special about this one I asked.  Let us send you one and you will see. So the Lobster Homeware apron arrived! I love the […]

Fermenting – feeding your gut and your biome

Fermenting – feeding your gut and your biome

I have always loved sauerkraut, a fermented cabbage with its origins in Eastern Europe but never realised how healthy it was for me.  I have been reading about feeding your gut and it all suggests that we need to eat more fermented foods including live yogurts, keffir (a fermented milk drink like a thin yogurt) and of course the cabbages like sauerkraut, red cabbage and kimchi (a Korean fermented Chinese cabbage with chilli).

Fermenting is one of the oldest techniques for preserving foods and is part of many current cultures today.

Lakeland have a range of fermenting jars which make the whole process really, really easy.  The jars come in three sizes; 1.2 litre, 1.4 litre and 1.8 litre.  The lids have a special valve to let the bad air out however not letting in any air or germs to ruin your fermentation.  There is no need to ‘burp’ the jars as this is done with the valve.

For my first fermentation I wanted to make sauerkraut, one of my favourite foods for years.  I think my German heritage along with living in Austria for a couple of years made this an essential food.

After finely slicing the cabbage (avoiding the thick bits of the core) and mixing 1 kilo in a large bowl with 25 gm of salt, mixing well with your hands until the cabbage feels wet (this would be a great time to add some caraway seeds if you wan to use them) you put it into your fermenting jar a handful at a time.  After each handful pack the cabbage down as hard as you can.  Place a small plate or ramekin filled with baking beans and wrapped in cling foil on top to keep the cabbage submerged or you can get some special glass ‘pebbles’ from Lakeland to keep the cabbage submerged. You then can put the lid on and push the valve stopper down.

All set and ready to keep an eye on and check every day that the cabbage is submerged.  After 4-5 days when you like the taste you can keep it in the fridge, the cold will stop the fermentation process.

My second attempt at fermentation was a carrot and ginger ferment.  Peel the carrots and ginger and cut into thin match stick slices.

Firmly pack into the jar and cover with a brine made with 25gm of salt per litre of cooled boiled water.

Now I was on a roll, enjoying my sauerkraut and the carrot and ginger match sticks fermenting away it was time to try Kimchi.  Kimchi is a fermented Chinese cabbage with garlic and chilli as well as thinkly sliced spring onions and for a real hit you can use some white radish.  It is important to wear protective gloves if you handle the chilli because you will certainly know it if you accidentally rub an eye before washing your hands!

Kimchi is ready to leave at room temperature and the fermenting can begin.  To keep the cabbage submerged I have put a couple of little ramekins filled with baking beans and wrapped in cling film on top.

I am now looking around for what to ferment next! We had just picked some fresh beetroot from the allotment so I decided to give that a try.  I peeled the raw beetroot and sliced it all very thinly.  Cover with the brine made with 25 gms salt per 1 litre cooled boiled water and add the weights to keep the beetroot submerged.  The beetroot was quite lively and fizzed out a bit at first so I now keep it on a plate.

After the beetroot has been fermented I think I will pickle it

And finally I am trying fermented red cabbage. The procedure is exactly the same as for sauerkraut.

I am now thinking what else can be fermented.  I have a hankering after trying to ferment cherries.  Keep checking out this blog to see how I get on with the fermented cherries.
The next step in my quest to feed my gut is to make my own ‘live’ yogurt.  Fortunately Lakeland have a range of yogurt makers and even luckier I got one for my birthday last year!
I was sent a selection of fermenting jars from Lakeland  but was not required to write a positive review. All opinions and photos are my own. No photos may be reproduced in any form without my written permission.
Tobago: Welcome to Trinidad and Tobago

Tobago: Welcome to Trinidad and Tobago

I was invited to visit the Caribbean island paradise of Tobago.  This was really exciting because I had never been there or to her sister island of Trinidad. I have to confess I love the Caribbean islands now adding two more to my list of […]